American freed from Venezuela, now back in U.S.

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their wedding day. Thamara's daughter Nathalia 7 is in the foreground

An American man jailed in Venezuela for more than 18 months without trial will be reunited with his family when he lands in Washington DC today, US President Donald Trump has said. Holt's wife, Thamara, also was freed, said Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in a row. CNN reports that the Venezuelan government released Holt and his wife Friday to the custody of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

Trump told Holt. "But we've had 17 [prisoners] released", during the Trump administration, the president said.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch said in a statement that Holt's release followed two years of intense lobbying, working with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts around the world, and Maduro himself.

President Donald Trump found out Friday that Holt would be released, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

"You were a tough one", Trump told Holt. The U.S. contended Holt was held on trumped up charges. "We have others coming", he said, singling out pastor Andrew Brunson, held by Turkey since an attempted coup in 2016.

Other members of Congress expressed their elation over Holt's release.

"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude", said an emotional Mr Holt, sitting next to Mr Trump in the Oval Office.

"I want to thank Chairman Bob Corker for his pivotal efforts, and that of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their help in this effort".

On Saturday, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez told journalists in Caracas that Holt's release was the product of "months" of "fruitful meetings" between Maduro and US lawmakers.

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The White House is thanking the government of Venezuela for releasing an American held in jail for two years but adding that US policy toward the Maduro regime isn't changing.

Holt's family says "we are grateful to all who participated in this miracle".

"You've gone through a lot, more than most people could endure", the President said to Holt as the two were seated side-by-side in the Oval Office.

Trump shook hands with Corker's staffer, who played an instrumental role in setting up communications for Holt's release.

In a statement, he added that "the United States stands steadfast in support of the Venezuelan people and their efforts to return to democracy".

On Saturday, a beaming Lacava could be seen in a video boarding the Venezuelan government plane that transported Holt to Washington wearing aviator glasses and a dark suit.

In particular, Maduro is likely hoping that the USA will stop stripping visas and freezing the assets of current and former Venezuelan officials - actions that are eroding Maduro's internal support network.

Their release came one day after Sen.

On Sunday, Maduro won a new six-year term as president in an election that has been condemned as fraudulent by the global community and has left him more isolated than ever. "It's a measure meant to somehow lower tensions". US Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican, tweeted, "After almost 2 years, Josh Holt is finally coming home!" He was arrested by Venezuelan security forces in June 2016, days after he married Venezuelan resident Thamara Caleño.

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